Archive for May, 2010

Governor Doyle Signs Municipal Court Bill

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

On May 18th, 2010, Governor Doyle signed 2009 Senate Bill 383 into law.  The new law makes a number of changes to Wisconsin Chapter 755 regarding the creation and operation of municipal courts, and Chapter 800 which defines municipal court procedure.  The following links will provide you with a summary and detailed information on the new law.  Most of the provisions of the new law go into effect on January 1, 2011.

Inside Track article.  This article provides a good overview of the various changes.

Senate Bill with legislative analysis.  This document provides the legislative analysis of the need for the new law and the major changes, as well as the actual test of the statutory revisions.

The act itself, 2009 Wisconsin Act 402 .

The legislative history of the bill can be found here.

Governor Doyle signs AB-260 effectively overruling Wood v. City of Madison.

Monday, May 24th, 2010

On May 18th, Governor Doyle signed AB-260 (Wisconsin Act 399) effectively overruling Wood v. City of Madison, 2003 WI 24.  In Wood, the court ruled that the City of Madison could reject a plat in the extraterritorial subdivision area based on the proposed use.  The new law prohibits a municipality (city or village) from denying approval of a plat or certified survey map on the basis of the proposed use of the land in the extraterritorial area (unless there is a plan or regulation adopted under the extraterritorial zoning statute – 62.23(7a)(c)).

Decision to trim trees discretionary not ministerial and thus entitled to immunity.

Friday, May 21st, 2010

In Nelesen vs. the City of Appleton (unpublished), a tree fell over in a wind storm and damaged Nelesen’s property.  Nelesen essentially argued that since a tree on City property had had branches fall onto and damage his property in the past, the City knew the tree would cause property damage in the future and (apparently) the City should have removed it rather than trim it, and thus the City had a ministerial duty to remove the tree.  However, the circuit court found that the City forester had evaluated the tree, trimmed it, and graded is as acceptable, and this was a discretionary action.  The court noted that the forester had to make a judgment when evaluating the condition of a tree, and that the forester had done his job.  Thus there was no ministerial duty to remove the tree.

Governor Signs Legislation to Protect Public Service Workers’ Families

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

As expected, Governor Doyle recently signed into law two bills that provide benefits to the families of firefighters, police officers and other public service workers who die in the line of duty.  The first, Senate Bill 520, requires that municipalities pay health insurance premiums for the families of firefighters who die, or have died, in the line of duty. 

 “Families of firefighters who have lost their lives shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their health care bills,” Governor Doyle said. “This bill ensures that these families are protected when their loved ones make the ultimate sacrifice.”

 The second, Senate Bill 429, establishes that if a firefighter, police officer or other public service worker gets sick or dies from cancer, heart disease or a respiratory impairment, there is a presumption that person’s job duties caused the illness, as long as that person didn’t show any signs of the disease during his or her qualifying medical exam.

 While this was a popular bill, it is also an unfunded mandate on local governments.  Some small towns and villages will be hard pressed to fund the requirements.